Alexei held the blue pen to his mouth, the songs of birds floating in the bright morning. A window bathed the office building in a warm glow. His eyes glanced at the clock sitting above the water fountain, waiting in anticipation. Five more minutes, and Mr. Niehoff would fire him. Five more minutes, and Alexei’s career would be over. He shuddered, picturing Niehoff’s stern look. The lips would be curled slightly, almost representing a grin if it didn't seem so sinister. Niehoff’s eyes would burn into Alexei’s head, leaving a scar where the normal level of perception couldn't discern it. Alexei placed the pen back in his leather messenger bag. It sat inside with a wallet, photograph, and scrap of loose leaf paper. Each item had been a gift from his mother, minus the paper of course. The wallet was his father’s and the photograph an unflattering candid of his family in Russia.
“Ivanov!” Lyman whispered harshly, resting his muscular arm into Alexei's desk. “Alexei! Heard you were getting the boot, eh?”
Alexei looked down onto his cheap plastic desk, sighed, and nodded his head. His coworker smirking at his despair and taking pleasure in the fall of another was no surprise.
“How long have you been working for, Ivanov?” Lyman queried, grinning like an idiot.
“13 years? Maybe they'll give me your job, I could use the pay raise, you know what I mean?” he chuckled.
Alexei did not laugh. His head turned slowly to the papers in front of him, trying to ignore Lyman's gloating. The words jumbled together into meaningless strokes of a pen. 13 years I’ve held up this job, and now they take all of my hard work away from me in an instant, like a burning house full of gasoline, he thought ferociously, gripping the desk to keep from suffering the bitterness of tears. Alexei’s boss made his way through the cubicles, occasionally pausing to emphasize the fact that Alexei was done for.
“Alexei Ivanov, it’s time to conclude your work in this company. You’ve been a very hardworking, dedicated man, but you know what must be done for the sake of all of our jobs.” Mr. Niehoff stated bluntly. With devastation in his eyes, Alexei looked at his boss one last time and nodded his head, agreeing to leave his job behind.
Picking up what little possessions he had, Alexei started his journey out of the office with no plan on what to do next. He now only needed to worry about Dimitri, who always found himself in trouble.